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State Health Officials Issue Warning Over Mug

October 29, 1998|EDWARD M. YOON

State health officials are warning consumers to stop using and buying "Save the Children" mugs because they contain high levels of lead.

The mugs, manufactured in China, have been sold mainly at Ross Dress for Less stores.

Customers who have been drinking from the 20-ounce mugs, decorated with "Popsicle Faces" or "Here Comes Santa" designs, are advised to contact their local health provider to have their blood tested, said Ken August, a spokesman for the California Department of Health Services.

"The federal Food and Drug Administration determined that the lead levels in the lip and rim area were 21.6 parts-per-million [ppm] in the Popsicle Faces mug and 57 ppm for the Santa mug," August said. Effective April 1, the new federal voluntary standard will be 4 ppm, he added.

Through Wednesday, August said there have been no reports of individuals becoming sick after drinking from the mugs. Symptoms of high levels of lead exposure include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, decreased attention span, irritability, headache and insomnia, he said.

A portion of the mug sales goes to Save the Children, a nonprofit organization, August said.

"We were notified last week by the Department of Health Services and we immediately removed any remaining product from our shelves," said Katie Loughnot, a Ross spokeswoman. "Our primary concern is the health and safety of our customers."

August said the department has located the manufacturer, Tien Shan Corp. of China, and the distributor, Centrum Corp. in Norwalk, Conn., which is recalling the mugs from the marketplace. Centrum officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Loughnot said all Ross locations have pulled the mugs off their shelves and will refund the cost of the mug to customers. Receipts are not required.

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